There’s a moment when you realize that your student success initiative is working. For Christine Wiggins of Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, Ala., that moment came when she saw the retention rate for the first cohort of Wallace State students who received InsideTrack coaching.
Jumping double digits in just one year, retention rose from Wallace State’s historical Fall average of 59.9 percent to 77.2 percent in Fall 2013.
“That’s the drop-the-pencil moment when you say, ‘wow, there are some good things going on here,’” said Wiggins, Wallace State’s Success Coaching Coordinator.
Recently, Wiggins joined Suzanne Harbin, Wallace State’s Director of Advancement, for a webinar telling the story behind the statistics. That story began with an InsideTrack Coaching and Capacity Building engagement that launched in 2012, and continues with the ongoing success of Wallace State’s own coaching program, developed and implemented with guidance from InsideTrack.
Wallace State partnered with InsideTrack for support in meeting a number of goals, including improving student retention and achievement and speeding time to graduation. Funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, the engagement with InsideTrack provided Wallace State with direct coaching services, professional development for Wallace State to train their own coaches, and data analytics to track the initiative’s outcomes.
The data attest to the enduring value that coaching holds for both the student and the institution.
As Harbin and Wiggins discussed in their webinar, 93 percent of students found coaching to be valuable in improving their experience with school, with almost two-thirds saying it was “very valuable.”
But students aren’t the only ones who benefit from persisting in school. Increasing retention and graduation rates is transformative for the institution too, and delivers a significant return on investment. Wiggins noted in the webinar that putting institutional resources behind coaching is “paying off in dividends.”
One year after introducing their own coaching program, Wallace State had a 62 percent year-over-year Fall retention rate among students who were offered coaching along with a new orientation program. Retention was 57 percent among students who were not offered either.
More students staying in school means more students graduating from school. At the same time that Wallace State began their partnership with InsideTrack, the institution was making a number of changes to increase completion. In the time since Wallace State implemented these changes, graduation rates have made a double-digit climb.
The graduation rate for the last cohort of students to enter Wallace State before InsideTrack’s engagement was 24 percent. For students who entered two years later — as Wallace State’s own coaching program was getting underway — the graduation rate rose to 38 percent.
View the webinar for more data tracking the impact of coaching at Wallace State, and to learn about the institution’s plans for sustaining these improvements into the future. You’ll also hear perspectives from Wiggins and Harbin on how to navigate the implementation of new student support programs, including:
- Understanding — and communicating — the difference between advising and coaching
- Securing buy-in from institutional leadership and student support staff
- Leveraging the success of new initiatives to increase student support staff
For more information about InsideTrack Capacity Building, visit https://www.insidetrack.com/capacity-building/.Click here to view the webinar